Exotic flowers, wild meadows and a walk among the treetops in leafy west London
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are 250 years old, but there’s plenty here for the modern outdoor adventurer. You can still wander the old Victorian Palm House and indulge in a little old-fashioned promenading like someone in a BBC costume drama, but these gardens – originally developed in the back yard of the royal palace favoured most by George III – are one of two national bases for research and education into botanical studies. So while you’re seeking out the luscious flora (including the giant, stinking Titan Arum in the Princess of Wales Conservatory) there are scientists beavering away in labs and offices, out of sight.
The stunning glasshouses are favourite strolling spots within the grounds, featuring some impressive Victorian structures – including the largest surviving Victorian glasshouse, known as Temperate House – and some lovely later additions. Inside each of them the climate is maintained to nurture everything from the world’s largest water lilies to delicate Alpine flowers to tropical blooms. (The Temperate House is closed until 2018.)
Those with an adventurous streak, and a head for heights, should climb up to the Tree Top Walkway, which stands at 18 metres tall and winds it’s way through, well, the tree tops. Once you’ve come back to earth, stroll down to the Chinese Pagoda, which was built in 1762 and towers over the southern end of the Gardens.
Given the exceptional upkeep and wide variety of fauna, you’re sure to be inspired. And if the green stuff is doing the trick, try seeking out the sculptures, which feature Henry Moore’s ‘Reclining Mother and Child’ in a stunning setting that changes with the light of each season.
There’s plenty to do at Kew. In fact, the art alone could take up your entire visit – see the Eduardo Paolozzi sculpture ‘A Maximis Ad Minima’ and visit the Marianne North Gallery and the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, all included in the main entry price.
Whenever you visit Kew Gardens, there’s something in bloom. The website has a dedicated ‘what to see this week’ section, so even in autumn or winter, you can be assured you won’t just see a lot of old twigs.
|Venue name:||Kew Gardens||Contact:|
Royal Botanic Gardens
|Opening hours:||Mar 27-Aug 29 Mon-Fri 10am-6.30pm, Sat, Sun and bank holidays 10am-7.30pm; Aug 30-Oct 29 daily 10am-6pm; Oct 30-Feb 10 2017 daily 10am-3.45pm; Feb 11-May 25 2017 daily 10am-5.30pm. Closed Dec 24 and 25. (Last entry 30 minutes before closing, some attractions close earlier, check on arrival.)|
|Transport:||Tube: Kew Gardens/Kew Bridge rail|
|Price:||£15, £14 concs, £3.50 ages 4-16, under-fours free, £19-£34 family. Online: £14, £13, £2.50, £18-£32.|
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Things to do
The Hive at Kew Gardens
Wolfgang Buttress' 17 metre high, 40 tonne installation already wowed audiences in Milan and now it's setting up home in Kew Gardens for the summer. Visitors can stand, lie or sit within the massive lattice structure as thousands of LED lights flicker...Exhibitions Until Sunday December 31 2017
Things to do
Joseph Hooker: Putting plants in their place
British botanist Joseph Hooker was the Galileo of plants. He spent his life studying every petal, stem and behaviour of shrubs and flowers around the world, earning him the title the 'King of Kew'. This exhibition charts his discoveries through botanical...Exhibitions Until Sunday September 17 2017
The Luna Cinema
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Sculpt at Kew
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Things to do
Christmas at Kew Gardens
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